Meiji Shrine (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū), located in Shibuya, Tokyo, is the Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. The shrine does not contain the emperor's grave, which is located at Fushimi-momoyama, south of Kyoto.
Torii leading to the Meiji Shrine complex
|Location||1-1, Kamizono-chō, Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0053|
|Date established||November 1, 1920|
|Glossary of Shinto|
After the emperor's death in 1912, the Japanese Diet passed a resolution to commemorate his role in the Meiji Restoration. An iris garden in an area of Tokyo where Emperor Meiji and Empress Shōken had been known to visit was chosen as the building's location.
Construction began in 1915 under Itō Chūta, and the shrine was built in the traditional nagare-zukuri style, using primarily Japanese cypress and copper. The building of the shrine was a national project, mobilizing youth groups and other civic associations from throughout Japan, who contributed labor and funding. The main timbers came from Kiso in Nagano, and Alishan in Taiwan, then a Japanese territory, with materials being utilized from every Japanese prefecture, including Karafuto, Korea, Kwantung, and Taiwan. It was estimated that the cost of the construction was ¥5,219,00 in 1920 (approximately $26 million USD today), about a quarter of the actual cost due to the donated materials and labor.
It was formally dedicated on November 3, 1920, completed in 1921, and its grounds officially finished by 1926. The interior volume of the shrine complex when originally built was 650 tsubo. Until 1946, the Meiji Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.
Meiji Shrine has been visited by numerous foreign politicians, including United States President George W. Bush, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
On the eve of new year, Japanese usually visit a Shinto shrine to prepare for the worship - Hatsumōde (初詣) of the new year. Meiji Shrine is the most popular location in Japan for hatsumōde.
Meiji Shrine is located in a forest that covers an area of 70 hectares (170 acres). This area is covered by an evergreen forest that consists of 120,000 trees of 365 different species, which were donated by people from all parts of Japan when the shrine was established. The forest is visited by many as a recreation and relaxation area in the center of Tokyo. The entrance to the shrine complex leads through the Jingu Bashi bridge. Meiji Shrine is adjacent to Yoyogi Park which together is a large forested area. The entrances open at sunrise and close at sunset.
The shrine itself is composed of two major areas:
The Naien is the inner precinct, which is centered on the shrine buildings and includes a treasure museum that houses articles of the Emperor and Empress. The treasure museum is built in the Azekurazukuri style.
The Gaien is the outer precinct, which includes the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery that houses a collection of 80 large murals illustrative of the events in the lives of the Emperor and his consort. It also includes a variety of sports facilities, including the national stadiums (Meiji Jingu Gaien Stadium, National Stadium, and the newer National Stadium), and the Meiji Memorial Hall (Meiji Kinenkan), which was originally used for governmental meetings, including discussions surrounding the drafting of the Meiji Constitution in the late 19th century. Today it is used for Shinto weddings as well as meeting rooms rent and restaurants services.
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